Tuesday, May 1, 2012
We Tried It: TaylorMade Rocketballz Fairway Woods
TaylorMade Rocketballz Fairway Woods
As if you haven't heard of these clubs yet (how could you not?), the new RocketBallz (RBZ) line from TaylorMade promises big distance, especially in the new fairway woods. I took time personally to try the new woods (I tested two models), and here's my take.
Before you dig on my summary, let's clarify a few things. TaylorMade claims its Tour players can add upwards of 17 yards of distance using an RBZ fairway wood vs. the previously hailed Burner Fairway wood. That's a big number, and some regular hacks like you and I might gain even more. Nonetheless, we appreciate the cajones it takes to make such a bold statement for added power—let alone from a fairway wood and not a driver, both within the TaylorMade brand.
There's also another point worth considering. When we test equipment for this very column, we don't do robotic testing. And, we don't use a launch monitor. Why not, you ask? Because you can get that sort of data just about anywhere. And frankly, we think it's better to test equipment the way most folks are able to test new gear: with our hands, eyes and ears and in real-life scenarios out on the golf course. This gives us more than just scientific data—it helps us evaluate not only club performance, but also how well a particular club helps us perform out on the course. No amount of computer data can tell you how good a club feels in your hands when you swing it, let alone how a club affects your confidence and shotmaking decisions. So we go "old-school" on purpose, hoping that our practical trial of new equipment presents a useful analysis for you when it's time to choose the right equipment for your game.
Five years ago, I don't think the RBZ color combo (a sparkly white finish and neon green/black graphics) would have worked. However, it seems there are some pretty savvy and fashion-forward people over there at TaylorMade. Bold colors are back in style in a big way, and neon green is a huge hit. I happen to like the graphics, especially the white crown against the black clubface and the green turf. With such contrast, and with no boundaries on what might look good or not, I wish the RBZ woods had a bigger alignment aid on the crown. I know, the white crown/black face is supposed to help with alignment, but with a club that's so fashion forward, a black or even green line on the crown might look really cool. (It works on putters, so why not on woods?)
The traditionally shaped, oversized RBZ has a slightly deeper face than most new fairway woods—something that I've wanted to see for some time now. Underneath, you can see the Speed Pocket (more on that later) and weight plug directly behind it.
FEEL & PERFORMANCE:
I tried two models: the regular RBZ 3-wood (15°) and the high-launching RBZ HL (17-loft). Reason being, I had heard how long this wood was, and thought if I could get away with hitting a longer fairway wood, I'd like to hit it as high as I could, too. With woods, in my case, the higher the better, since they land softer and are easier to control. There's also a Tour version, with an open face angle and less internal draw-bias weighting. I didn't test that one.
First, the feel on both RBZ 3-woods was exceptional. They both felt lighter than my own 3-wood, and turns out, they are—by about 10 grams. Also, both models are .5 inches longer than my 3-wood (which is 43 inches). That took a little getting used to. (A lot of the new 3-woods that promise big distance are longer than the unofficial standard of 43 inches.)
In terms of how each wood performed, let's start with the 15° RBZ. At first, I wasn't quite sure how to handle this thing. With the longer shaft, I wondered, "Should I hit this thing like a driver?" Because of this, the first few shots fired were a little fat and drifted to the right. A quick correction in my setup (I moved the ball forward a bit), and I quickly started hitting shots that, no joke, seemed longer than some of my driver tee shots as little as five to six years ago. Missed shots, which for me tended to be on the toe, had some distance loss and flew lower. Some of my fades and hooks were more pronounced than I'm used to, as well.
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